Dwight Howard: Predicting Where Orlando Magic Center Goes Before Trade Deadline

Matt JonesAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2012

Dwight Howard: Predicting Where Orlando Magic Center Goes Before Trade Deadline

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    As the NBA trade deadline approaches following the All-Star break, it is becoming increasingly more likely that the Orlando Magic will look for a trade partner so that they can get valuable assets in return for superstar Dwight Howard.

    The Magic cannot afford to follow in the steps of the Cleveland Cavaliers and allow their superstar to walk away for nothing. 

    Potential trade partners must be wary of Howard's upcoming decision to become a free agent at the end of the season, and must have other star players who will team with Howard and be able to keep him around for the long term. 

    The following three teams have the best chance at trading for Howard, and also have star players that can convince Howard to sign a long-term deal.

    These may not be the specific terms of the the deals that each team ends up putting together, but each is a possible scenario to land Howard. 

New Jersey Nets

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    The New Jersey Nets have spent the last few seasons trying to acquire an NBA All-Star. They were able to add point guard Deron Williams last season. 

    Williams is the key piece in persuading Dwight Howard to signing a long-term deal with the Nets. 

    While the Nets are better suited to sign Howard in free agency, it is not a great option because other teams who are under the cap would also throw their offers into the mix. 

    If the Nets are going to get Howard, they need to do it now instead of waiting for free agency.

    A potential trade between the Nets and the Orlando Magic would be:

    Nets Receive

    - Dwight Howard

    - A reason for Deron Williams to sign a long-term contract with the team

    Magic Receives

    - Brook Lopez

    - Mehmet Okur 

    - First-Round draft pick in 2012.

     

    It is obvious why the Nets would make this deal, especially it they are able to keep Deron Williams with the team. Howard and Williams would make a great duo and bring the Nets from being a lottery team to a contender in the Eastern Conference. 

    Orlando makes this deal to acquire a solid young center in Brook Lopez, salary cap space with the expiring contract of Mehmet Okur worth $10.8 million and a draft pick in the 2012 NBA draft that is expected to be strong in talent.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are another solid trade option for the Orlando Magic, but it will depend on how much the Lakers are willing to give up to acquire Howard. 

    The key player in a deal to acquire Howard is Andrew Bynum. The two of them would not be able to play on the same team, as neither is a good fit at the power forward position. 

    In this potential trade scenario:

    Lakers Receive

    - Dwight Howard

    Magic Receives

    - Andrew Bynum

    - Devin Ebanks

    - Draft picks

     

    The Lakers would make this deal to swap All-Star centers to create a more formidable duo with Kobe Bryant and show they are focused on keeping him happy and winning now. They would then need to find a way to acquire a better point guard, and the Lakers quickly become the team to beat in the Western Conference.

    Orlando would make this deal, as they are in a tough spot of running the risk of getting nothing in return. To get a young All-Star and a draft pick that could be in the mid-first round would be much better than letting Howard go for nothing.

    The Magic would no doubt ask for as many draft picks as they can get in return.

    The Lakers would be willing to give up at least two or maybe more to acquire Howard.  

Chicago Bulls

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    Dwight Howard recently said that he would be interested in playing alongside reigning MVP Derrick Rose.

    In a recent story in the Chicago Tribune, Howard stated, "If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen."

    To make a trade for Howard work, Bradford Doolittle suggested the following via ESPN:

    Bulls Receive

    - Dwight Howard

    Magic Receives

    - Joakim Noah

    - Taj Gibson

    - C.J. Watson

    - Draft Picks

    - Cash

     

    The Bulls make this deal so that they can pair Howard with Derrick Rose. They would be willing to give up draft picks but would do all that they can to hold on to the potentially high and currently protected first-round pick they own from Charlotte. In 2016 the protection is gone and there is a good chance that that pick will still be very high and valuable.

    The Magic would be satisfied with getting Noah, Gibson and Watson instead of allowing Howard to test free agency. The team would surely push to get that first-round pick from the Bobcats, but may have to settle for the Bulls' own picks, which will be low for the next several years. 

    Trading for Howard is a bit of a gamble for the Bulls, who already have a team who is one of the NBA's top contenders. Adding Howard could mess with that chemistry and set the team back a little bit this season.

    Although the Bulls can offer a better package to the Magic, it remains to be seen if the team will part with so much for Howard when they are already one of the top teams in the league. 

Where Will He Go?

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    If Dwight Howard is traded before the NBA trade deadline, it is going to be to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    It may not be under this exact scenario, but the Lakers will find a way to add Howard to their team, and it will involve a trade of Andrew Bynum.

    In an effort to recreate the Kobe and Shaq days in Los Angeles, Howard will join the team and help them to return to being the team to beat in the Western Conference. 

    The best chance for the Lakers to add Howard to the team is through a trade in the next several weeks, as they would not be able to sign him in free agency.

    If for some reason the Orlando Magic do not make a deal, Howard will end up in either Dallas or New Jersey as a free agent and the Magic will follow in the footsteps of the Cleveland Cavaliers.